According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, 3.6 Million Muslim visitors traveled to Thailand in 2017, a number that grows larger each year. With such a large population of Muslim tourists, one would assume that Thailand must provide a wide variety of Halal foods.
So is the food in Thailand Halal? Not all food in Thailand is Halal. However, there are many restaurants and food services in Thailand that are Halal. It is so readily available that many believe it is the reason such high numbers of Muslim tourists visit Thailand each year.
Since the global Muslim travel market expects to surpass 220 billion (USD) by 2020 (this is a pre-COVID-19 prediction, of course), there is no reason for Thailand to limit or minimize the number of Halal foods available. It is likely that the number of Halal restaurants, services, and foods will only increase over the years to meet such demands (and hopefully attract more Muslim visitors and increase their tourism market.)
What Qualifies as Thai Halal?
First and foremost, the chef preparing the meal must be a Muslim. Additionally, the persons slaughtering the animals used for the meal (if meat is involved) must be Muslim as well.
Secondly, the method of slaughter must adhere to Islamic dietary laws, which mandate the animals be killed with a sharp blade that cuts through the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe. The slaughter should be swift, and blood must be drained from the carcass. Halal foods are prepared to adhere to food cleanliness and purity.
Additionally, the tools, machinery, and surfaces used to prepare Halal foods must be clean and uncontaminated by Haram items (non-Halal, un-pure foods) like animal blood, alcohol, or pork.
Other animals that are permitted include beef, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey), lamb, and seafood.
How to Spot a Halal Restaurant in Thailand?
Most Halal restaurants or markets display a Halal logo in the shape of a Rhombus, typically with the word: “The Central Islamic Council of Thailand” beneath it.
In 2016, the Tourism Authority in Thailand created an app called ‘Thailand Muslim Friendly, ‘ which allows visitors to search for restaurants, mosques, health providers, and hotels. You will easily find over 150 different Halal-certified restaurants.
Are There Halal Street Food Vendors?
Yes! The Halal food in Thailand is not strictly located in a restaurant or market. Many street food vendors provide Halal and Halal-Certified meals.
Take a look at this video of Mark Wiens touring Halal Thai Street Food. The historic Charoen Krung area of Bangkok, located near the Haroon Mosque, houses a community that makes some of the most outstanding Halal Thai street food. They do the cooking in their homes and sell right out of their homes. You can feel the sense of community and love, walking through this neighborhood.
If you desire to experience real Halal home cooking in Thailand, while meeting some of the most friendly and helpful people, you absolutely must visit.
Some of the highlights of Halal Thai street food are the Roti Mataba Khun Mai (savory stuffed Thai crepes.) You can add your desired choice of Halal meats, with onions, cumin, and turmeric.
One of the best parts of trying Halal Thai street food is that most dishes will only cost $1-5 (USD.) The food is delicious, homemade, and inexpensive! It is in a Muslim community in the middle of Bangkok, not far from Silom Road and Asiatique (near the financial district).
Talad Rim Klong
The Halal Food Market in Bangkok is located along the canal. In Thailand, it is called Talad Rim Klong (which means ‘market along the canal.’) It is located through a narrow alley. If you don’t know to look for it, you can easily miss it!
Be sure to try ‘Smiling Cookies,’ which are essentially delicious deep-fried donuts. They go great with a hearty milk tea! Still hankering for something sweet? Try the Khanam Krok, like a coconut pancake (made from coconut and rice).
Top Rated Halal Restaurants & Food Locations in Thailand
Hotel Al Meroz’s Restaurant, Saengboon, Bangkok
- Hotel Al Meroz opened its doors in 2016 and was the first hotel in Thailand to have its facilities, services, and food certified by the Gulf Halal Center in the UAE and the Central Islamic Council of Thailand. Their most popular dishes include roasted duck & fried rice and lobster biryani.
Ya Yah Seafood, Chon Buri
- Listed on Thailand Muslim Friendly app under Full Halal Foods, Ya Yah best known of course for their Halal seafood dishes. Try their curry seafood soups! Or their version of shrimp cocktail.
Busaba Halal Restaurant, Dusit
- Looking for a hipster café vibe? Stop by Busaba for Halal Chinese Roast Duck, or their famous Charcoal Waffles with ice cream.
- Known for their delicious Halal Thai cuisine, including their biryani rice and meat dishes, and their brightly flavored roti mataba! Their most top-rated crowd-pleaser, however, might just be their variety of goat curries!
Blue Elephant Cooking School
- This cooking school accommodates Halal students, providing Halal-certified dishes and clean and un-contaminated work surfaces. Blue Elephant also has a range of sauces and curry pastes that are Halal-certified for you to take back home.
- It is located in one of the most popular shopping districts in Bangkok (Pratunam) and famous for its variety of Halal cuisines. Their Halal Turkish Kebabs and Pad Thai rank among favorites.
- Sinthorn offers one of the larger Halal restaurants in Bangkok (perfect for large families and gatherings of friends). It is best known for its Halal grilled meats. Their dishes range from Thai to Mediterranean.
Yana Restaurant, Bangkok
- Located in a popular food court in Mah Boon Khrong Mall, Yan Restaurant serves Halal-certified foods that are both of Thai cuisine and international dishes. Some of their highlights include the Tomyam Kung soup made with lobster and their goat milk yogurt drinks.
Farida Islamic Food, Nonthaburi District
- Located in an unsuspected food stall, Farida’s is a popular local hot spot. Those who go often go daily, and the food is Halal, tasty, and inexpensive! Their shrimp and vegetable soup is practically a staple item.
Halal Fast Food Options in Thailand
You might not always be in the mood to enjoy Halal Thai cuisine. And when on the run, it’s nice to know which fast food restaurants provide Halal options. We’ve found a few reliable options that might surprise you:
McDonalds’ Halal Nuggets
- Certain McDonalds locations in Thailand (Bangkok for sure) offer certified halal chicken nuggets. Be sure to ask the manager!
- Like McDonald’s, some KFC locations are said to have Halal chicken options. Always double-check with the staff before ordering.
Can Non-Muslim Visitors Enjoy Halal Thai Food?
Yes! Many people mistake Halal foods as being exclusively for Muslim people. However, the principles of Halal are to ensure animals are not mistreated/tortured, that animals slaughter is conducted only for sustenance, and that the animals should be dead before being cooked (i.e., no boiling live lobsters.)
If you are not a practitioner of Islam, you can still enjoy Halal foods. In fact, you may enjoy foods prepared under such strict guidelines more because you can rest assured your food was prepared thoughtfully, ethically, with purity in mind.
The Muslim Population in Thailand
Not only do millions of Muslim tourists visit Thailand each year, but 9-10% of Thailand’s population is estimated to be Muslim. Many Malay Muslims live in the following regions in Thailand: Rangong, Phang-Nga, Phuket, and Songkhla, whereas many Chinese Muslims have settled in Northern Thailand. Muslim history in Thailand can be traced back to the 19th century when Hui Muslims migrated from China.
Other Noteworthy Things
Since Thailand does have a large population of both Muslim citizens and visitors, there are over 3,900 mosques. Additionally, you can find prayer mats in certain hotels as well as prayer rooms at the airport. This is perhaps why Thailand remains a top travel destination for so many Muslim travelers.
The Key Take Away?
If you are looking to try some of the most extraordinary Halal Thai dishes, you absolutely must travel to Thailand. If you were already planning to visit and were concerned you might have difficulty finding Halal restaurants, rest assured there are hundreds (especially in Bangkok.)
Not only are there a plethora of outstanding Halal restaurants, but the Halal Thai street food is not to be missed. In fact, street food may be the most singular Halal food you can experience while in Thailand.
Thailand offers a variety of Halal foods and is home to a large Muslim population that makes up 10% of their overall religious population. For this reason, Thailand has over 3,500 mosques, and an App to help you navigate your way through these historic cities, while still respecting your customs and needs.
Even if you are not Muslim, you should absolutely try the Halal foods located throughout the many city districts of Thailand. Not only will you encounter unbelievably delicious foods, but you will also be exposed to more cultures and unique customs.